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Season 6, episode 14
Series 614
1st release: 02/12/01
2nd release: 07/16/01
Production number: V1418
Script number:
Approximate shooting dates: December 2000
Last update: 08-17-01

SYNOPSIS 1 by Bluesong
SYNOPSIS 2 by Shana
COMMENTARY 1 BY Beth the Gaynor
COMMENTARY 2 BY Josh Harrison

Adrienne Wilkinson (Eve/Livia)
Kevin Smith (Ares)
Tsianina Joelson (Varia)
Morgan Reese Fairhead (Cyane)
Marise Wipani (Kanae)
Michelle Blanchard (Mawu-Ka)

Written by Joel Metzger
Directed by Chris Martin-Jones

This is where Eve is put on trial by the Amazons. Creation Entertainment

Xena and Gabrielle fight to save Eve from execution when she returns to Amazon lands to make amends for her past. Logline

Eve faces execution when she returns to Amazon lands to make amends for the past. ClickTV

Eve is taken prisoner by Varia, the queen of the Amazons, who seeks revenge for Eve's past life as Livia, when she slaughtered Varia's younger sister during an attack on the Amazons. When Xena learns of Eve's fate, she and Gabrielle set out to rescue Xena's daughter. In the process, they learn that the Amazons are preparing to wage war against the Romans and that none other than Ares is behind the plot. TVGuide.com

1st RELEASE: 02-12-01
An AA average of 3.5

2nd RELEASE: 02-12-01
An AA average of 2.3
Competition from Syndicated Action Dramas:
The X-Files 2.9
Stargate SG-1 2.7 (62R. New Ground)
Andromeda 2.5 (16R. The Sum of Its Parts)
Xena 2.3 (126R. Path of Vengeance)
VIP 2.3
Profiler 2.1
Earth: Final Conflict 2.0 (22R. The Joining)
Maximum Exposure 2.0
Invisible Man 2.0 (32. Den of Thieves)
The Lost World 2.0 (35R The Guardian)
BeastMaster 2.0 (38R Fifth Element)
Baywatch Hawaii 1.9
Sheena (1.9), 20R Unsafe Passage
Relic Hunter 1.7 (40R Midnight Flight)
Early Edition 1.5
Outer Limits 1.4 (131R. Final Appeal Part 1)
Thunderbox 1.3
Queen of Swords 1.1 (10R The Serpent)


This synopsis is by Bluesong.

An Amazon council of various tribes has a meeting. Varia says she will be the head queen over all the tribes because this valley is where they were born, or something like that. Someone says Roman tribes are in the Amazon woods. Eve walks through the woods. She turns and sees a Roman contingent marching after her. The leader says the new emperor sent them to protect her as she spreads her message of peace. She politely objects. The Amazons encircle the army. Eve backs up to the Roman soldiers for protection. The Amazons all attack. Eve stands and watches. Varia comes face to face with Eve and orders her taken prisoner. She says Eve will now pay for her crimes. A Roman officer runs away; he sees that Eve was captured.

Xena and Gabrielle seek lodging in a village, but because Roman legions are passing through there are no rooms at the inn. The escaping Roman officer collapses in front of Xena and Gabrielle and tells them that the messenger of Eli was captured by the Amazons.

Amazons bring captured Romans to Varia. Varia says kill them. Some of the Amazons object.

Xena and Gabrielle go to the site of the fight. They see the surrendered soldiers all lined up, dead, with arrows sticking out of their backs. Xena pulls out an arrow and says it is from Cyane's tribe. Cyane's tribe appears, and greet Gabrielle. Xena gets her hackles up, but Gabrielle says they should stay calm and keep their friends as friends. The new Cyane offers to lead Xena and Gabrielle to the Amazon council. Xena and Gabrielle go in. They understand that former Queen Marga said Eve could leave that last time but she was banished and now Eve has returned. Gabrielle is recognized as a queen and given the right to stay at the council meeting. Xena stays too.

Varia tells how six years ago, Eve, then Livia, attacked the village and killed her sister. Varia says she had a chance to kill Livia, but it was her first fight and she wimped out. So her sister died instead, at Livia's sword.

Eve looks at Xena and says yes, I did all that bad stuff. She is offered death or banishment. The Amazon council says well, she was already banished. They all stand up and declare death to Eve. Xena looks upset. Varia pulls out her sword. Gabrielle says Xena, as Eve's mother, has the right to attempt a defense for her daughter. Xena is given one hour to present her case. Varia sheathes her sword and walks off. Xena tells Gabrielle that the sword came from Ares.

Xena hunts down Varia. Varia says yeah, I'm worshipping Ares now, what of it? She and Xena spar. Xena says only Ares could stop some special move, and so she knows Ares is training Varia like he did Livia. Varia says he's helping her rebuild the Amazon nation by uniting all the scattered tribes. She says she needs Ares.

Xena returns to the council. She asks Eve questions. She says that Eve has to tell the whole truth. Eve says that she was fighting two campaigns in the North and Ares came to her and told her to attack the Amazons and make them slaves to Ghurkan. He said it would bring a lot of glory to her and Rome. So, Xena says, Ares was behind the raid. The Amazon council looks at each other, but Vera says she'll ask Ares what really happened.

Gabrielle asks to join the council in deliberations. She tells Xena to be patient, that she'll talk to the council. Xena says if Gabrielle can't talk to them then it'll be done her way.

Varia finds Ares. Ares said he had Livia raid the village in order to unite the Amazon nation. He tells her that Livia didn't sell the slaves to Ghurkan; she threw them all overboard. He tells Varia to lead the Amazons against Rome.

At the council, Gabrielle has to agree that Eve is guilty. Xena hears Gabrielle's pronouncement and storms off. Gabrielle goes after her, but Xena says she just can't talk to her right now. Gabrielle says she will be able to have a voice at the sentencing hearing and will try to reason with the council. Xena goes off alone and yells for Ares. She asks him why he is doing this to her. His voice comes all around Xena and he tells her the story of the scorpion and the swan. The scorpion wanted a ride across the river and the swan obliged, only to be stung. Ares says he does it because that is what he does. He also needs something on his score card to get his reputation back.

Varia declares the death sentence on Livia. Gabrielle says she declares the right of challenge, so Varia isn't queen until she defeats Gabrielle. Gabrielle asks Xena to promise she won't interfere in the fight. Xena agrees. Varia and Gabrielle fight, in a type of boxing match. Varia knocks Gabrielle out. Gabrielle falls to the ground, and Xena runs to her. The Amazons lead Eve away. Xena tends to Gabrielle. Gabrielle says she is sorry. Xena says no, I'm sorry. Now I have to do what I have to do. Gabrielle says yeah, go do it.

Xena goes out and yells for Ares. She tells him the scorpion drowned when the swan was stung.

Eve is lead to some acid mud pits or something. Xena comes up and says Varia isn't killing Eve for revenge but because she couldn't kill Livia a long time ago. Varia pulls her sword. She and Xena fight. Xena takes down Varia, then sheathes her sword, offers words of wisdom, Varia pulls her sword, goes to kill Xena, Xena is going to let her kill her, but Varia sees the ill of her ways and falls to her knees crying. Xena pulls her sword and cuts Eve's bonds. Eve runs to Varia and hugs her. Varia stands up and says Xena is our friend. Council, we gotta talk.

Ares, watching, claps. He tells Xena she had that planned perfectly.

Varia pleads for Eve. Then she sentences Livia to death so that Eve, the messenger, may live. There are hugs all around.

Xena tells Eve she should forgive herself for all she's done. Eve asks Xena if she's forgiven herself for all she's done. Eve says she is leaving to go east, to Chin. She thanks Gabrielle for saving her mother and for bringing her happiness. Eve and Xena hug and say "I love you." Eve says good-bye. Xena tells her to stay out of trouble.


This synopsis is by Shana.

Oh yes, I liked this one! After a couple of weeks of not-so-typical Xena episodes, this return to a more create-a-problem...problem-gets-worse,Xena-and-Gabrielle-solve-problem type episode got my heart a-pumpin' during the commercial breaks. I must admit after the teaser I was beginning to wonder if this episode was going to be inconsistency-riddled, but when it was all said and done, I felt like someone had done their homework.

Okay, enough generalizations...let's get into some details. Path of Vengeance starts with an overview of an Amazon camp and then tightens in to a cave where a bunch of Amazon (I almost wrote Amazon women...what would be the point in that?) sitting in a circle, having a seance. Whoops, not a seance, but the voice heard over the shot sounds so much like Marga, I thought for a minute that they had brought her spirit back to impart a little wisdom. The Amazons are queens of various tribes (one of them looks like the Nicole Kidman look-alike Rhine maiden...is it?), and they are creating an alliance to make the Amazon nation stronger. One of them questions if everything is to be decided by the council of tribal queens, but in steps a very familiar Amazon...Varia. She declares "not everything", and another queen in the circle, the one with the funkiest headdress and the Marga voice says the various queens uphold the laws, but Varia leads the warrior. I guess that sort of makes her Commander-in-Chief, but funky headdress calls her THEIR queen. That's a scary thought...a couple of weeks ago, she was in training with Xena, and uh...having a few problems with discipline, and now she's the supreme leader of the entire Amazon nation? Uh huh, there's a FINE idea. Varia it's said it's time for her warriors to go to action. There are Roman troops scouting the forest. Varia doesn't know why they're there...she just knows they're going to make sure they don't leave.

Cut to a shot of the forest again, and there's a lone figure in the distance. Hey, I know her! That's Eve, apparently all healed from her flagellation (I still think that's a dirty word), and now apparently out on a mission. She senses something and whirls to see the afore mentioned Roman troops marching toward her. She wants to know what they're doing there, and the leader tells her they've been dispatched by the emperor to be her guard. Emperor? Let's see, Caligula was the last one I knew of, and he's dead now, so who's in charge of Rome now? Eve says she's bringing a message of peace to the Amazons and can't show up with Roman soldiers. The leader tells her again he has his orders. Eve wants him to go back and tell the emperor she has to do this alone, and about this time, there is the sound of a whole lot of poor imitations of Xena's war cry...either that or a bunch of wild turkeys are about to attack. They are being completely surrounded by hundreds of Amazon Warriors. The Roman leader comments he thought the Amazons were a small tribe. Eve speaks up, "I am a representative of Eli...and of Rome...I am here for peace!" Maybe I made this up in my own head, but I thought Eve had separated herself from representing Rome. Apparently, not anymore. The Amazons make a weird battle sound, and all step forward one pace, and the Roman commander quips, "I don't think they care." He orders his men to form a defense, and the Amazons close in. The battle is on!

It's a fierce one, with lots of stabbings and stompings on both sides. Eve stands in the middle, looking like a big magnet, ready to draw a sword or two her way. The only Roman with the power of speech tries to get her out of there, but Eve refuses to go. (there's a shock!). Varia is doing some serious damage to the Roman troops, and has taken out several of them, when Eve spots her and just stares. After cutting another throat or two, Varia sees her, and approaches, "Well, if it isn't Livia." I was waiting for her to say "Bitch of Rome", but not yet. Eve corrects her, "I'm Eve, Messenger of Eli." Varia doesn't care which one she is...she just barks, "Take her prisoner!" She tells Eve that no matter what her name is, she's going to pay for her crimes against the Amazons.

Meanwhile, Roman talking boy tells one of his men to get out of there, go back to the last village and tell one of the officers what is happening. Before the soldier leaves, he watches Eve being dragged off to the taunts of the Amazons, "Not so tough now, huh, Livia?" even as the battle rages on. Very very clever of him to be able to take that one extra piece of information!

Now we're somewhere quiet, where the sounds of battle are absent. It's in front of a tavern (I know it's a tavern, because there's a picture of a mug on the front of it). A man standing out front of it is telling Gabs he's sorry, and she turns and walks back to Xena, who is uh...standing in the middle of the road. She tells her the inn's all full, there's a legion of Roman soldiers coming through. For some reason, it seemed weird that Gabrielle would be trying to get a room while Xena was standing just a few feet away doing...nothing. I don't know why that bothers me, and I do believe with extensive therapy, I'll get over it. Xena doesn't seem upset with the news. She thinks it's a good sign that the troops are moving back toward Rome. "I guess this new emperor is really serious about waging peace, huh?" How does she know they're moving TOWARD Rome...they could be coming FROM Rome, couldn't they? And who is this new emperor? I've asked it before, and I'll ask it again! Gabbers says, "Thanks to you," in regards to the peaceful emperor, but Xena says Eve's the responsible one. Huh? Did I miss an episode somewhere? Xena says they'll try the next place. What's up with the girls having to sleep in a tavern anyway? It's not cold out, no one is dressed in a coat or anything. They've already obviously tried a few inns and were turned down. Why don't they camp out somewhere? Come to think of it, with the exception of Gabrielle in The Rhinegold, have they slept out in the open by a campfire anytime this season? I'll have to think about that, but no scenes are coming to mind right now. What's up with that?

Anyway, Gabrielle is glad that whichever of them did the work, she's just glad the fighting's over, which Xena agrees with. Hmmm...sounds like a cue for an injured Roman soldier to me! The man dispatched by the Roman leader staggers up and drops to his knees in front of Xena...is she a Roman officer now? Oh well, I guess she's close enough! The man says "Amazons...hundreds of them..." and Xena muses no Amazon tribe is that big. The soldier says he saw them, and Gabs wants to know what the Romans were doing on Amazon lands. The man tells them to protect the messenger of Eli. That got Xena's attention and she grabs the man's collar. She has to know what happened to the messenger! The man tells her of Eve's capture, and how the Amazons called her Livia and were set on revenge. "I dunno (dunno...love it!) what they're going to do with her." Xena knows as the camera closes in on her horrified big blue eyes, "They're going to kill her!"

After the commercials, we're back in the Amazon forest. Remember Eris from Kindred Spirits? Well, she has long blonde hair now, and she approaches Varia, wanting to know what to do with the surviving Romans. Varia tells her "Finish the battle," but Eris, well, in a minute we figure out she is now Cyane, and is a totally diffferent character, says they've surrendered, horrified at the thought of killing them. I was a little confused because she looks and sounds just like Eris who was an Amazon, of course, but has now become a totally different Amazon with the same name as one of her sister amazons from the same tribe. I don't know if we're supposed to believe she's the Cyane from Kindred Sprits (confused yet?), but you've just got to go with it. So when I write Cyane, picture Eris with long hair and you've got it. Got it? Huh?

Varia tells Cyane again to finish the battle, or the Romans will come back and finish the job. Cyane replies, "My tribe (oh gods, now she sounds like Amarice...) doesn't kill the enemy once they've surrendered." That's okay, Varia's tribe does, and at a hand wave, the Amazons draw their swords and approach. Cyane tells Varia there is no honor in this. Varia doesn't care.

Eve, who was being shown led off in the teaser, has apparently been led on again, because she is near the Roman soldiers. She tells Varia not to kill them, the men were to be guards, and they were coming in peace. "If you massacre these men, you will be no better than I was." Eve seems to get people fired up a lot when she talks. "You dare to compare me to you?" Varia demands and she backhands Eve. She tells Eve that while Eve was fighting to turn the Amazons into slaves, Varia was fighting to defend her land. She says Marga sentenced Eve to banishment, with the condition if she returns to Amazon land, she is to be killed. Did I miss that sentencing? That must have been a scene cut from Coming Home. Varia tells her Eve has to face what she's done, and Eve replies that's what she's there for. She's uh...led off again. As Varia marches off, she orders Cyane and her tribe to protect the pass and let no one through their valley.

Xena and Gabrielle are on the scene, and surveying the numerous dead Roman soldiers. Xena spots a group lying side by side, their arms tied behind their back, and arrows sticking out of their backs. She puts a hand on Gabs arm...I don't know if it was to steady Gabrielle or herself. An arrow is shot and lands at Xena's feet. Xena examines it and tells Gabbers it's "Cyane's tribe. What are they doing this far south?" Gabs doesn't know. Cyane and her warrriors move up, bow and arrows ready to fly. Gabs tells her they're friends of her tribe and they want to talk. Cyane tells her Varia has ordered her to not let anyone through. "Well, we're coming through," Xena says, and starts to move forward. Jiminy Gabrielle (I'm sorry, but the last two weeks Gabrielle popped up several times as Xena's conscience...don't kill Michael...don't eat the apple, etc.), whispers to Xena, "Xena, I know you want to save Eve, but these are our friends, so let's keep it that way all right?" Xena gives Gabs a long look, like "all right...for now", and Gabs turns back to Cyane. "We knew your queen, Cyane." Sheesh...I'm getting confused again! Cyane...this Cyane...says she is queen now, and was given Cyane's name and rank... Ri-i-i-ght....I'm straight on all this...I think. Finally, Gabrielle gives the fist on the heart salute and tells Cyane introduces Xena, then herself. Cyane recognizes them immediately...of course. "It is a privelege to meet a fellow queen of such reputation. The elders of my tribes tell many stories of your deeds." (Xena gives a none-too-friendly, non-amused smirk here...she's not worried about giving the wrong impression) But Cyane can't go against Varia, the new leader's orders now. Xena goes for a little guilt trip, pointing out the soldiers with the arrows in their backs. "Cyane, those men were executed after surrender. Your namesake would not have stood for that...Now we need to talk to Varia." I like Cyane. She considers what Xena has said, and tells them the council is about to meet and they might have a chance to talk to Varia. They can accompany her. Before they head out, she also tells Xena and Gabs that many of the Amazons don't like the path that Varia is leading them on. Big surprise, there.

The council is meeting in the cave and Eve is there. Varia is delivering her side of the issue, about Eve returning to Amazon land with Roman troops..."the imfamous Bitch of Rome (told you she'd say it!) Livia." "Her name is Eve!" Guess who said that? Yep, Mom, with Gabs at her side who have just stepped up to the entrance of the cave. Eve looks up at Xena, surprised, and after a pause, Varia gives a slight nod to the guards, who let Xena and Gabrielle enter. Varia starts in, telling them that Eve's hands have killed her sisters. "Changing her name doesn't change her crimes." Xena tells Varia that Marga already passed sentence on Eve. Varia reminds her that part of the sentence was that Eve was to be killed if she returned to Amazon land. While Xena is thinking up a rebuttal, funky headdress speaks up, telling Xena she has no authority there. Xena just replies, "I'm not leaving here without her." Gabrielle pipes up with "Now wait!" and Nicole Kidman Amazon says they do recognize Gabs' right to speak. Gabbers says Xena is there by her permission (hmmm), and has a right to speak for her daughter's defense. Funky headdress warns that Xena must abide by Amazon tradition. Xena doesn't answer, just gives an almost imperceptible nod...there's a look of pain in her eyes. Funky headdress tells Varia to continue.

Varia wants a flashback of her own...she gets it. Her hair is in pig tails...weird...and she looks a little strange, but this is supposed to be a younger Varia. She tells about how her tribe was strong six years ago before Livia arrived. She's running through a field chasing another girl, someone named Toura. It's her sister, a fresh-faced young girl. They see some Romans approaching and there's a brief flash of Livia. Varia and Toura take off at a dead run back to the village to warn them that the Romans are coming. Now, I like the continutity here, particularly with Eve/Livia. I'm so used to seeing Eve from this season, that I forgot what she looked like as Livia, all dressed up in her Roman duds, hair slicked back, battle sneer in place. She looks EXACTLY as she did when Xena rediscovered her after the twenty-five year separation. The Romans, with Livia in command, attack and it's another brutal battle. Varia is knocked unconsicious, and misses most of Eve's best moves. When the battle is over, Varia slowly wakes up and sees the surviving Amazons have been rounded up. Livia is telling her troops to check for anyone hiding. She tells them to watch the faces of the captives...they want to get top dollar at the auction. Varia spots Toura among the captives. She gets to her knees, and there's a convenient long dagger at her knees. She says she had the perfect chance to rid the world of Livia, but this was her first battle, and she had never killed before. She is shown slowly stalking up behind Livia, who is watching the captives. Livia turns, spots a hesitant Varia, then performs the "best move" she had demonstrated to Varia in Coming Home. I cheered! No wonder Varia was trying to get her to show off her moves in the season opener! Livia (I can't call her Eve here...I just can't!) draws her sword and approaches Varia who is trying to scuttle away. Toura breaks free and runs to lie on top of Varia to protect her. The shot closes in on Varia's left eye (this is very cool!) and we see a reflection as Livia raise her sword and deliver a death blow to young Toura. We cut back to the present. "If I had killed Livia, I would still have my tribe, and my sister." I hate to say it, but I feel a little less antagonistic toward Varia now. Varia knows they can't undo the past, but they can serve justice. Xena and Eve are staring at each other, and Eve tells Xena that it was all true. She did those things. Xena's expression doesn't change and it's hard to read. Gabrielle just looks down. Funky headdress says there's no question of Eve's guilt, just what's to be done with her. The Amazon leaders banter back and forth and decide the law is clear, Eve must die. Xena takes a step forward, but Gabs physically restrains her. That Gabrielle can get by with anything these days! Funky headdress says anyone for the execution of Eve should stand and be counted. All the queens stand. Now this is mean, but I thought of Xena and Gabrielle STANDING outside the circle. Shouldn't they have sat down? Xena watches the queens stand, shock registering on her face as we fade out.

Varia draws her sword and Xena tries to rush forward again, only to be held back by Gabrielle again. Once again, Xena holds back, shouting, "You're not doing this!" Gabrielle declares Xena has a right to Eve's defense. Varia says Eve has confessed, what can her defense be? Uh...methinks Xena is grabbing at straws, "If you give me time, I'll present one!" She might as well as said, "Give me time, I'll think of something!" Cyane speaks up, saying Xena and Gabs have done enough for the Amazons to deserve this. Xena gives her a little grateful nod which makes up for the smirk she gave Cyane earlier. One of the queens says Xena has an hour. Xena sneers at them all as they go their separate ways out of the cave, then asks Gabs if she noticed Varia's sword. I didn't, but Gabs says it's like Eve's, when she was Livia. Xena confirms it. It was given to Livia by Ares! Doh! Another fly in the ointment!

Xena takes off after Varia. She tells her that Marga wanted her to train Varia to be a great queen, and she sees she failed in that. Uh...didn't we go back and forth on this issue in Dangerous Prey, with Xena deciding she'd been a success? Varia tells her she's grateful for the training, but she's on her own now. Xena queries, "Is that right?" then moves to attack Varia with one her fists of fury combos. Varia successfully blocks all the blows, and when it's over, Xena tells her, "Anyone who has ever seen me use that move is dead...except Ares." They release each other, and she continues, "He's training you now, isn't he? FOR WHAT?" Varia tells her it's to rebuild the Amazon nation. She tries to leave but Xena turns on her, telling her Ares doesn't care about her or the Amazons. Varia declares with Ares help, they will be great again. Xena says they don't need him. "Varia, it's within you to lead the Amazons. You're the one!" I sure wish she'd make up her mind!

The hour went by awfully fast because an Amazon approaches, saying they're ready to hear Xena's defense. Varia walks away after telling Xena she's wrong...she does need Ares. Xena stands there a moment longer, her eyes searching, as...I guess she's still building her defense. Then we're back in the cave, with Xena circling Eve, asking her why she raided Varia's tribe. "Slaves," Eve replies. "Slaves..." Xena repeats, then goes on to ask why a commander would lead her fiercest warriors through forest and swamps in the vain hopes of making some Amazons slaves. "What really happened?" Eve doesn't respond. Xena leans in and tells her that Ares is leading the Amazons in a suicidal mission against the Romans. "You can make them see how he operates. If you don't care about yourself, at least care about them!" Poor Eves...she has a one track mind, replying, "I committed these crimes, Mother. I must tell the truth." Xena has her hand on Eve's arm. "Then tell the whole truth!" she tells her.

Time for Eve's flashback. As Livia, she's fighting two campaigns in the north. She was taking two provinces for Rome. In her tent, one of her officers show her the areas they hold and which ones they'll have before the end of the day. Livia smiles and tells them to leave her. They do, and someone else makes his grand entrance, behind her. It's Ares, and Livia's smile grows as he pust his hands on her waist. He kisses her neck and asks what's wrong..."Campaign not going to plan?" No, Livia's problem is they've won so much territory, there's little else to conquer. Ares points to the map in front of her. "You haven't been there." Livia says it's Amazon land, with nothing to be gained there. Ares starts some ego stroking...not all gains are shown on a map. It's the glory, the name Livia. and he suggests conquering them for kicks...or even better...slaves. Ares knows this Persian warlord...any guesses what the name is? Who's Gurkhan? Yep! Continuity continues! Gurkhan has a taste for the exotic. I'll say! Livia resists...it still doesn't make sense, but Ares puts the moves on her, slowly bending her back over the map. He tells her to trust him....if she enslaves the Amazons, she can watch the name spread all over the world. Livia chuckles, and jabs a dagger through the Amazon nation on the map, even as the rest of her is...otherwise engaged.

Back to the present, and Xena's LA Law gig. "So Ares was behind the raid." Eve confirms, and that stirs up the council a bit. Varia senses the dissension and reminds them that Ares is helping her build a strong Amazon nation. Xena says Ares is out for himself. Varia says she'll find out from him, and leaves. Xena gets one more shot in, "I'd consider Eve's verdict carefully, because you're also choosing a path for your people." Funky headdress says Xena's had her say, and it's time for the council to decide. Xena gives Eve's arm a comforting squeeze, and starts to leave, but Gabs doesn't follow and Xena turns back. Nicole Kidman Amazon asks Gabs if she wishes to be heard. Gabrielle wants to be part of the deciding council. One of them tells her she has that right, and Cyane, breathing a sigh of relief, adds, "We could use your wisdom." Xena takes Gabs arm to get her attention, and they move aside. Notice that Renee reacts before Lucy's hand ever touches her...I think she knew it was coming! Gabrielle needs to comb her hair...it was all in place a minute ago. Boy, I don't get distracted easily, do I? Anyway, she tells Xena she can tell the council what Ares is really like, "Varia already has her doubts." Xena reminds her how persuasive Ares can be, but Gabs asks her to be patient. "Let me try this...there's wisdom in the Amazon ways." Xena's next line made me laugh hard...and there weren't many laughs in this one! Xena gives Gabs her cynical smirk and says, "Like the time they painted you blue and made you howl at the moon to consecrate your queenliness?" Hee hee! It's no surprise that Gabrielle isn't amused. Xena tells her if Gabs can't change their minds, she's getting Eve out of there the old-fashioned way. She stalks off out of the cave, leaving Gabrielle to stare after her, then roll her eyes a bit and turn back toward the cave.

Varia moves back to the place she and Xena had their previous conversation, and thrusts her Ares custom-made sword into the ground, calling out the god of war's name. Ares appears instantly, wanting to know if that's any way to call her patron guard. Varia ain't in the mood for platitudes...did Ares help Livia attack the Amazons? Ares yadda yaddas about Artemis separating the Amazons, making their tribes dwindle, and how he knew an attack would bring them back together. Ares is so good! Varia says that's no excuse for selling her sisters as slaves, but Ares says he knew the Amazons would be worthless to Gurkhan. They were too spirited to fetch a dinar. (Uh, excuse me, but wasn't Gabrielle introduced by Virgil as an Amazon in Who's Gurkhan?) Anyway, Ares moves in for the kicker that would ensure Varia's hatred for Eve continued. He tells her Livia threw the Amazons overboard. "I mean, she tossed them over like spoiled cargo. They still had their shackles on." Varia wants to bring them back home, but Ares tells her she can't do that. But she can prevent it from happening again. She can unite her sisters against Eve and Rome and show them they mean business.

Gabrielle has some new jewelry! All the Amazon queens are wearing these huge silver coin...uhhh....I'll call them pendants for a lack of a better word, and now Gabs has one too. She's sitting with the council wanting to know why they condemn Eve when it was Ares behind the attack. They feel it was Eve's hand on the sword, so she's still guilty. Funky headdress lays a guilt trip on Gabs telling her if her heart is truely Amazon, she knows they must speak the truth. Varia moves back in, saying the council must speak with one voice, and they're growing impatient. "What is your vote, Sister?" she asks as the camera moves in on a Gabrielle whom is looking very sad and uneasy.

Outside, Eve is tied to a post of some kind, while Xena sits a few feet behind her like one of Odin's ravens. She's dropping the point of her sword to the ground with a nice resounding clanging noise. That's probably not too good for the sword. An Amazon approaches and says it's verdict time. "What have you decided?" one of the queens asks Gabrielle as Xena walks back into the cave. She gives a small confident smile and nod to Gabrielle...nothing cocky, just an "I know I can count on you" guesture. When Gabrielle delivers the single word, "Guilty", she gets a head whoosh from Xena along with a look of absolute disbelief.

What's this...yet another Amazon episode next week? All of a sudden the Amazons are getting a lot of attention!

Oh well, I digress...back to the show. Funky headdress intones "The verdict is guilty" as Xena and Gabrielle stare at each other. Xena's eyes are glistening with tears, but she whirrs around to leave, saying "Eve." Gabrielle chases after her. "Xena...Xena...I had no choice!" Xena raises her arms with a spluttering sound, shaking her head with a "I can't believe this" sound. Gabrielle grabs her and tries to stop her moving, but Xena keeps going. Gabrielle just hangs on for the ride and tries to tell Xena she had to vote with the council. If they had kicked her off, they would have found Eve guilty anyway, "It was the only thing I could do to save her." Xena pulls her arm away and stops for a second, "By condemning her to death?" "No!" Gabrielle responds and grabs on again as Xena starts walking once more. Gabrielle tells her she can plead Eve's case to the Amazons when it comes to the sentencing and can show them Ares motives are not to help them. Xena is listening to all this, her face growing darker and darker, and this time she wrenches her arm from Gabrielle, none-too-gently. She whirls on Gabrielle and snarls, "I just can't talk to you right now!" and takes off. It may sound cold, but I like the way Xena handled it. Rather than stay there and say hurtful things to Gabrielle, which she was obviously thinking of doing, she wants to get away from her, until she has calmed down. A season or two ago, this scene would have probably been handled differently. Gabs watches her go, only calling out "Xena" once, but continues to watch, her eyes looking sad.

Xena walks out into a field, and calls out Ares' name twice..."Come out!" He doesn't show himself...he just whispers "Xena" over the breeze. Xena draws her sword. She whirls around, trying to find him, "Ares, why are you doing this to me?" Her voice sounds genuinely hurt. He calls out her name and she whirls again. Ares wants to know if Xena knows the story of the scorpion and the swan. Xena doesn't care about that, "Haven't you got the guts to face me?" Pull up a chair now, folks, and picture yourself on Xena's grandma's front porch, because it's time for a little story. Xena is still trying to locate where Ares' voice is coming from as he tells his tale. The scorpion needs to cross the river, and asks the swan for help. The swan figures it's safe, because he'd be helping out the scorpion...Xena's face forms a half-smile, "My daughter's about to die, and you're feeding me fairy tales?" "Bare with me...it's worth the wait," Ares' voice replies patiently. "Halfway across the river, the scorpion stings the swan." Uh...something's wrong with Xena...as Ares continues to tell his story, her eyes close and her head throws back in the "Bacchae Gabrielle just bit me" orgasmic look, and her hand comes up to touch her open mouth, then down over her breastplate and to her stomach which is glowing bright red. That's a little disconcerting to see! For a minute, I thought Xena was about to immaculately conceive again! Ares continues..."As they're both being swept to their death, the swan asks the scorpion, 'I was helping you...why did you sting me?' And the scorpion answers..." Xena's hand is on top of another hand on her stomach, a hand that she caresses as she moves with it up her body. The camera closes in on her and Ares, standing behind her, as Xena finishes the story with a gasp, "It's what I do..."

"Yeah," he whispers. It's what I do. As this scene continues, Ares is caressing her collarbone and her arm, smelling her hair...and she's not resisting a bit. He tells her lost a lot of followers when he was mortal and needs to make a major comeback. "Like the biggest war in centuries," Xena supplies. "In history," he corrects. "Those crazy Amazons...those ruthless Romans..." He's very happy with having them fight each other, with him on both sides. "I"m the god of war, and that's what I do." Xena's had enough and jerks away from him. "You're a son of a bitch" she growls. "You think I'm gonna let you kill my daughter?" Ares says she wasn't part of the plan, but showed up on her own. "She got involved of her own free will." Xena pauses for a second, then tells him that she may not be able to kill gods, "but I'm not gonna let this happen without a fight." "I believe you," he says before vanishing, leaving Xena to think hard about the situation.

Make no doubts about it...Ares is back to his true form. The things that Xena and Gabrielle did for him in the last few episodes seem to have skipped his mind...either that or he figures that they're even for his saving Gabs and Eve in Motherhood and it's time to start over. He's back to his old taunting menacing self. Good deal!

Back in the cave, Varia declares the council is finished, and it's time for her to declare the sentence. Gabrielle doesn't look too happy, as she shakes her head, covering it with her hand as she sits down heavily on her chair. Xena walks in the entrance of the cave, but is stopped by a couple of guards who cross spears before her. Varia begins the sentence, but Gabrielle stands up..."Wait!" Cyane tells Gabs that Varia is queen and delivers the sentence, but Gabrielle takes the decorated staff (is it a talking stick?) from Varia's hand. Xena's eyes perk up at that one! Gabrielle calls out, "I use my right of challenge!" and breaks the stick over her knee. Whoo hoo! You go, Gabbers! The council murmurs during this, but Gabs continues, "You are not queen, Varia, until you defeat me!" Xena watches all this, her mouth twitching a bit, and when Varia states, "You had a better chance with words, Gabrielle," Xena takes off out of the cave like a shot.

I don't know where she went, but when Gabrielle walks out of the cave, wrapping a long dark strip around her hand, the other one is already covered, Xena runs back up, telling her she doesn't want Gabs to do this. "Let me fight Varia." Gabrielle responds with, "Xena, it doesn't work that way. I challenged Varia; it's my fight." Now, someone correct me if I'm wrong, and they always do if I am, but wasn't it established in Hooves and Harlots that if Amazon royalty invoked the queen's challenge, she could choose a champion to duke it out for her? Isn't that what let Xena fight Melosa? Why won't that work now? Is Gabs just in the mood for a good tussle? She tries to make Xena promise that she won't interfere. If Gabs can become queen, she can pardon Eve. Xena's struggling with this. "You know it's the right thing to do!" Gabrielle tells her. "Promise me!" I wonder if Renee ever gets a stiff neck looking up at Lucy? Xena hesitates for long seconds, and then clenches her jaw. "All right." Gabrielle looks at her one last time and walks off. Xena walks off in another direction.

The ring is set up...where did the Amazons get a brightly colored tarpaulin? Anyway, all around the round tarp stand noisy Amazons, holding staffs horizontally to keep the battlers in bounds. The Amazons are screaming out encouragements to Varia...fickle fickle. Gabs moves into the ring, and the kickboxing match is on. It occurs to me that I haven't seen Gabrielle deal in a whole lot of unarmed hand-to-hand combat, but she holds her own for a long time, giving as many punches and kicks as she takes. Xena is watching from outside the ring, wincing when Gabs takes a bad punch. This fight is feral, and Gabs gets Varia in an armlock, telling her she shouldn't be fighting Gabs...it should be Ares. Varia breaks free and pins Gabs, pounding away. She's opened a cut above Gabs left eye. I don't know what it is about this fight scene, but it actually gave me a sick feeling in my stomach from it's savageness. Gabrielle tries again to convince Varia that Ares is going to destroy the Amazons. Varia opens up a barrage on Gabrielle, claiming Ares taught her the moves, and she really begins to bloody poor Gabs up. She pins her against one of the staffs, pressing a knee hard into her spine. Xena has to stare down into Gabrielle's brutalized (and I mean it's bad, especially seeing it on Gabrielle) face, and do...nothing. She promised, remember? Varia delivers one more kick to the head, and Gabrielle is bent backward, her teeth a bloody mess, her eyes closed. She is defeated. She slowly straightens up, long enough to pitch forward, and then lands on her back in the center of the ring. Xena is through the staffs and at her side in an instant, cupping Gabs head in her hands. She lifts Gabrielle up to hold her, with a heartbroken "Oh, Gabrielle," and it's time for a commercial.

Whew! I needed a break after watching that extremely painful scene! After the break, Varia is leading Eve away from the ring (there's not a trace of a mark on Varia which doesn't seem right...Gabrielle did some serious butt kicking), and the council follows single file, without Gabrielle, of course. Xena glances back at them, but resumes her ministrations to Gabs whom she has already cleaned up a lot. She caresses Gabs' face, softly whispering her name, and her face lights up with joy when Gabbers opens her eyes. What's the first thing Gabs says? "Xena, I'm sorry." And what's the first thing Xena says? "No, I'm sorry." The looks on their faces...well...you can picture it without my awkward wording. Xena says, "You did all that you could to save Eve...now I have to do what I have to do." Why does Gabs always look younger when she's hurt? She gives Xena a slight nod and smile, "Go...it's okay." Xena leaves her to head back to the field.

"Ares...come out, I can smell you!" Xena knows just where he is this time, and he materializes before her, sniffing his underarm. He's just there to lend moral support. "No, you're just here to gloat! Now that you've got your godhood back, you've got everything you always wanted, haven't you?" she retorts, slamming both hands into both his shoulders, so she can stalk past him. Ares is like an enthusiastic dog, practically wagging his tail as he prances around her, "Well, not exactly everything but hey, Que Sera!" Hmmm...wonder what he meant by that? Hee hee. He can't wait to see Xena get in there and kick in some Amazon heads to get her kid back. Before the big battle?, Xena wants to know, and she's right, Ares is there to gloat. He can't help that he's the "malevolent genius" that brought all this about. He asks Xena, "Remember what the scorpion said?" Xena remembers, but she has a parting shot which shuts him up for once. "Ares..." she says before running off..."The scorpion drowned!"

Good point!

Never let it be said that this show doesn't give us inventive ways of killing people! Eve is being led along a wooden bridge, which ends abruptly above some bubbling pits of...something tan colored. From another interupted bridge on the opposite side of the pits, Xena sounds her warcry and somersaults across the significant gap to land in front of Varia and Eve. Varia draws her sword."I don't want to fight you, Xena." Xena draws her own. "You got that right!" Varia already has a gleam of doubt in her eyes, telling Xena she followed all the laws and is doing this for her sisters. One of the council defends Varia (oh yeah, they are there too), and Xena tells them that Varia is acting out of guilt. She didn't save her sisters by killing Livia while she had the chance. She's blaming herself. Varia takes it personally and the fight is on.

Varia apparently felt no damage after her bout with Gabrielle because she's moving at full steam here. She keeps Xena on the defensive quite a bit, and even knocks Xena's sword from her hand first. She slams Xena backward into a pole, knocking a skull into the ooze below, and now we know it's acid, as the skull dissolves. Xena quickly rids Varia of her sword and begins the pummeling in earnst.

This is a very, very long fight sequence with several new moves, and it's way too detailed to explain. There are lots of acrobatics and the upper hand changes several times. At one point they both flip across the gap to the far side of the bridge. Varia grabs a stick from the bridge and Xena does the same, so they've gone from swords to staffs. Xena seems impressed with a lot of Varia's tactics...I'm sure she recognized them as Ares', and even though she landed on her warrior butt more than Varia did, I still had the feeling that she was just toying with Varia the whole time. She doesn't smile a lot, until she puts her staff behind her head and delivers a pool cue move (you'll know it when you see it) and jabs her staff into Varia, then delivers a kick which breaks Varia's staff in half. Varia continues to fight...she has two staffs now...and disarms Xena again, knocking her over the edge of the bridge until Xena is hanging above the bubbles by her fingertips. Xena flips upward and Varia is quickly disarmed. I suddenly got the impression that Xena was drawing out this fight for some reason...she could have finished Varia off long ago.

Varia hasn't caught on though, and continues after Xena, knocking her once again very near to falling into the acid. But Xena manages to grab onto some monkey bars (once again, when you see it, you'll know it!) and hand to hand, foot to foot's it across to the other side where the council is. The whole time, Varia is jabbing her with another staff she's picked up, but when Xena is close enough the the edge, she kicks one of the monkey bars out from under Varia and scrambles to safety. She picks up Varia by the face, and with one extremely frightening grimace throws Varia several feet away from her. If I were Varia and I had been that thick-headed up to that point, I KNOW I would have finally caught on and given up. Xena does a...uh no handed flip (you'll know it when you see it...heh heh), and lands at Varia's feet. Varia's sword is right by the owner's head, and she looks like she's going to grab it, but Xena kicks her own sword up into her hand first and levels it at Varia. Xena tells Varia if she gives in to Ares she'll become everything she hates. Varia's hand inches toward her sword,and Xena looks disappointed. "You don't believe me? You already have!" Then Xena, who has easily won, resheathes her sword. She tells Varia, "You want vengeance, Varia, you start with me." Varia uses the best move, the same flipping mood she used on Livia, and Xena lands with her face in the dirt. She doesn't even bother to get up completely, she just crouches on one knee and looks up at Varia with soulful eyes. Varia raises her sword to stike her, then suddenly sees Toura instead of Xena for a brief instant. She looks at the council, then Eve, who all look back at her very somberly, then drops to her own knees in tears. Xena puts a comforting hand on her head, then stands and after drawing her sword, cuts the chains holding Eve. Eve immediately, and I mean immediately goes to Varia's side to embrace and offer her solace. It was really very touching.

Xena, her work done, turns to the council and tells them with her sword pointing in Varia's direction, "This is the pain if you continue to follow Ares' path." Varia composes herself, and stands, with Eve standing behind her still hanging on to her. "Amazons," Varia sniffs, "Xena is our friend. We have to talk." Xena goes to stand by Eve and they watch the council slowly walk away. Behind Xena and Eve, from the other side of the pit, Ares is giving a slow clap. You know, it just occured to me that he didn't take his shirt off once in this episode! "You had this planned all along," he says to Xena. She just gives him that smug "of course I did" kind of smile, to which Ares laughs heartily. Xena shakes her head slightly, still smiling. "You are SO good!" Ares declares...yep, it is really good to have him back! "It's what I do," Xena tells him in a soft voice. "And I wouldn't have it any other way," he concludes before disappearing. Xena puts a hand to Eve's head and pulls it to her cheek as the scene fades back to the Amazon council.

Varia is standing beside Eve. She says this woman has pleaded guilty to her crimes and admits she can never do enough to make up for it. But she's willing to keep trying. Then she puts on her queen voice, "As queen of the Amazon nation, I hereby sentence Livia, killer of the Amazons to death." Xena and Gabs are watching this and Xena looks to Gabs with a look like, "huh? do we have to start all over again?" but Varia continues, "So that Eve, the messenger of peace, may live." Eve whirls to face her astonished, as the rest of the council stands up. "You are free to go," Cyane tells Eve. Eve beams, and gives Varia's hand a squeeze, before moving to Xena and Gabrielle. She takes her mother's hand for a moment, then moves to Gabbers who grabs a hand. Eve kisses Gabs cheek, and Gabs hugs Eve, kissing her back on the cheek....perhaps Eve didn't get the chance to thank Gabrielle for challenging Varia earlier. Xena's eyes are narrowed...could she be trying to avoid getting emotional as she says, "Thank you, Varia."? Varia tells her Xena was willing to be killed, just to show she was headed down the wrong path. But Xena knew the truth was inside her..."You just needed the chance to decide what was right." They give each other a brief, but warm hug, and this time it is Varia that says, "Thank you." Varia moves to stand with the rest of the council, and they give our three heroines the Amazon salute. Gabrielle and Xena return it, looking pleased and proud. Eve just smiles. The three turn to go, Xena's arm around Eve.

The final scene of this episode got to me a lot more than I ever believed it would. Xena and Gabs and Eve are walking away from the camp. "They've forgiven you, Eve," Xena says. "Maybe you should think about forgiving yourself." "Have you...forgiven yourself, Mother?" Eve counters. Xena smiles and makes an "Ah" sound, and adds "Good point." Eve turns to face them and says she knows what she has to do. She has to go east to Chin and the land of Indis, to spread Eli's message there. Didn't Eli already visit Indis? Oh well! Xena looks shocked. "Now?" she asks. Eve nods. "You mean now?" Xena repeats, sounding incredibly surprised...and hurt. Eve nods, looking a little pained herself, then turns to Gabrielle. "Thank you...for saving my mother, for bringing her such happiness...I'm forever in your debt." Gabs glances at Xena with a warm smile, but when Eve embraces her, she hugs her back with one of those sweet Gabrielle expressions, saying, "You don't owe me anything." And then Eve looks up at her mother. "And thank you...for giving me life...so many times." Their embrace is so heartfelt...it's one of the warmest moments I've seen on Xena in...well, I've ever seen on Xena. Eve tells Xena, "I love you," and Xena whispers back, "Love you too." Both of them have tears in their eyes when they finally separate and face each other again. Xena guestures at Gabs and says, "Why don't we walk with you a ways." "Yeah," Gabrielle agrees, but Eve shakes her head. "No, I need to do this on my own." She forms a brave smile and tells them "Goodbye." Xena looks devastated as she walks away, but Gabs smiles a little...not because she's happy....I think it's more because she knows Eve is on the right path. The camera slowly pulls up above Xena and Gabrielle as Gabs rubs a hand on Xena's shoulder. "Stay out of trouble," Xena calls, but as the camera continues to pan out, she puts a hand to her face to cover it...the scene moves to slow motion (I hate it when they do that...it has to much of a note of finality to it!), and Gabs smile broadens as they fade out.

The disclaimer is "the disclaimer for this episode was harmed during the making of this motion picture." Is it just me, or are some of these disclaimers getting more and more cryptic?

I don't know if it's the last we'll see of Eve, but I do know, that this is one of Adrienne Wilkinson's finest performances...if not THE finest performance she's turned in. She actually didn't have that many lines in the episode...but her sincerity shone through in all scenes. The final goodbye scene was bittersuite...Xena finally had to let go, and reacted like a typical heartbroken mother...but I think Eve is going to be okay.

And Varia? Well, she's in the previews for next week's episode, so perhaps we'll get the chance to see if she has truely had a change of heart this time. Nothing is really resolved with Ares, although I think he knows the Amazons will never trust him again, and now that he has lost Eve, has he lost the Romans too? I dunno. He certainly didn't get the war he was wanting!

And Xena and Gabrielle? What I really liked about their relationship in this one was the trust Xena was willing to put in Gabs...even though she really wanted to get in there and use her typical Warrior Princess style to end the conflict. Gabrielle acted on her own, not letting Xena know what she was going to do, but Xena didn't overreact when it appeared Gabs might not be doing the right thing. There were a lot of tender moments between them, even if they weren't always working on the same plan.

One more thing stands out to me about this episode...and that is the musical score. Joseph Lo Duca's choices for this episode were SUPERB...whether it be a fight scene, a courtroom scene, or the final emotional scenes. Some of the score was familiar, while other parts were new, and it perfectly accentuated this fine episode


This commentary is by Beth Gaynor.

Special bulletin: Ares is back in a BIG way. He's powerful, he's nasty, he's lying with a glib tongue and getting his kicks by seeing how close Xena will let him come before yelling in his face. Nice to have you back, war god.

I give extra points to any episode in which everyone acts intelligently. The players are all at odds with each other, and almost everybody's wrong at some point, but they all have good logic and good reasons for what they're arguing. Varia scored big time by defending her actions to Eve, while getting ready to slaughter prisoners of all things, with the line "I'm defending amazon lands and uniting our people. You were raiding our village for slaves." I like it when everybody's thinking.

Excellent amazon episode. It's about time the amazons got smart and banded together to keep themselves from being picked off little piece by little piece. Gangs, bands, hordes of amazons running all over the place! Their battle cries echoing all around the Romans would have been enough to impress Genghis Khan: part Xena cry, part bird calls. I loved the council and the different style of dress of each of the queens. You could even tell who some of the amazons running around the village belonged to by their dress. With one startling exception: the chick who tells Xena and Eve that a verdict has been reached (and we see her later in the boxing ring circle). That one is wearing beads, shells, and linen in a sea of brown leather. Who the heck was that?

Who's this new emperor who apparently feels he's good buddies with Xena and Eve? He never gets named. I guess now that Ares is back, we don't need the Romans to be such bad guys. The one Roman escapee is told to go back to the village and report to an officer what has happened. Is it significant that he immediately reported to Xena, or is the kid just a blabbermouth?

The amazons still suffer from the most schizophrenic memory in the whole series. Gabrielle's a queen again! She's not a queen! She is a queen! This episode, they remember that Gabrielle's royalty. But come to think of it, Eve's her heir, and nobody seems to remember that. Granted, soon after giving her the right of caste, Gab and Xena went into the deep freeze and Eve was smuggled off to a name-changing Roman orphanage, so no one may know about it. But it might have been a good thing for Gabrielle to bring up in all that defense stuff. ("Did I mention she's an amazon princess?") And apparently, in 26+ years the rules for challenging the queen have seriously changed: there's now no weapons, Gabrielle can't pick a champion, and it's no longer to the death. Not necessarily bad changes, but a far cry from first season's fight with Melosa.

As long as we're talking continuity, this WAS very cool: the move that Eve/Livia used to vault over Varia in the flashback seems to be the same one that tipped off Varia to Eve's identity back in Coming Home. I haven't compared the video, but it sure looked like that same "I'm so clever, I've managed to put you behind me" move. And then in the final fight, Varia uses it on Xena. What goes around comes around!

During the first council meeting, Xena agrees to abide by amazon law, but she lies like a dog. She spends the whole episode not giving a whit about amazon law when it comes to her daughter. But, when Gab wrangles a promise to not get involved in her challenge, Xena does keep that promise. Eve trumps amazons, Gabrielle trumps... well, just about everything else.

My most niggling gripe with this episode's plot: the amazons are taking their cues from a male war god?? Chyah, right.

At last, we get the explanation for the bug that's been up Varia's butt all season. Her sister got slaughtered by Eve right in front of her. That lends some sense to her someone-permanently-peed-in-her-Cheerios character. But it leaves a huge honking question unanswered: how the heck did Varia stay with the amazons? Shouldn't Eve have killed her or hauled her off to the slave line to take her sister's place?

That hour that the amazons give Xena to prepare a defense only turns out to be five minutes, even by TV editing standards. Xena follows Varia to the back cave, they exchange some fisticuffs and about a dozen lines... and it's time to go back. That was the shortest hour on record!

Ares' story is just slightly changed from an actual fable. The fable is usually a scorpion and frog instead of a swan (I guess Xena and amazons might better enjoy being compared to swans than frogs) and the scorpion's line is usually "It's in my nature" instead of "It's what I do," although I guess those are pretty close to the same thing. Great verbal play between Ares and Xena when Ares uses the scorpion to justify his nastiness, until Xena skewers him with the point that the scorpion drowns for it.

Ares' involvement in the amazon slaving raids was a good warning for the amazons and enough to give them pause... but they were absolutely right (and Gabrielle knew it) that it had nothing to do with Eve's guilt.

Great reaction from Xena after the guilty verdict was given - she throws her hands into the air, she's so shocked that Gabrielle would vote against Eve. Xena loses a bit or perspective at this point - she lashes out at Gabrielle (and drives Gab to being a little bullheaded about getting her own butt kicked) and at Ares, but Ares hits her right on the mark when he reminds her that Eve is the one who volunteered for all that. Poor Xena doesn't have anyone to blame... but she makes up for it with that drowning scorpion stab.

I understand that the reason Varia was supposed to do so well against both Gabrielle and Xena is because of the training she's gotten from Ares. But I guess it's a sign of the seasons that after all we've seen Gabrielle do, it was awfully hard to buy that Varia could beat Gab. It was a pretty cool fight, though, even if it did have a little bit of a "Saturday night at the boxing ring" feel to it.

The amazons have an interesting method of capital punishment: death by banana pudding! (I know, I know, it's acidic sulfur. But it looked like it would make a tasty dessert with just a few vanilla wafers.)

Varia's had so many changes of heart by now that she's getting frequent flier miles at the donor ward. We've seen petulant; accepting; petulant and angry; warm and understanding; petulant, angry, and violent; near-noble and forgiving. Maybe she should consider a 12-step program.

In the "nice touch" department: when Eve is released, she immediately offers comfort (and, I would hope, some serious apologies) to Varia. That was a neat comment on Eve. I liked Varia's reaction in that scene, gently ignoring her, much more than the hand-holding grinniness of the amazon council scene. After all that, I was willing to believe that Varia could move on and forgive Eve... but smiling at her without a care in the world was a bit much for me. And what was up with ignoring Gabrielle at the end without so much as a "Oh, and sorry about the pummeling"?

Varia has some interesting parallels with Xena. Driven to fighting by the death of her family, taken under Ares' wing to exploit her talents in the worst way possible, committing some pretty rank acts like slaughtering prisoners... good thing she got turned back from that path much earlier than Xena did. Maybe that's part of how Xena knew how to trigger the right thing to snap Varia out of it. Although if Xena did, do you think she could have whispered a clue to Gabrielle before she got the tar kicked out of her?

Eve is going to Chin and Indes to spread Eli's word?? She's going to show up in the series finale carrying a little red book and chanting Maoist slogans. Was this a final goodbye to Eve? The music and scene sure seemed to imply that it was. Buh-bye, Eve. Nice girl, fun when she got riled up, but most of the time way too boring to hang around. She gets a sweet, warm farewell scene (and some awfully beautiful words to Gabrielle and Xena) and a motherly "stay out of trouble" from Xena for the road.


Cool shot of the whole season may go to Livia's reflection in Varia's eyes as her sister is killed. That was one darned nifty shot, and it was perfect for getting across the point - how deeply that's ingrained in Varia.

Xena gets Zinger of the Episode with "Like the time they painted you blue and made you howl at the moon to consecrate your queenliness?" Ha!

AWESOME fight over the banana pudding pits of death! Sticks, swords, spins, and swinging fists! Pretty funny board-cam, too, when Xena's floorboard breaks and almost takes her for a ride into the pudding pit.


This commentary is by Josh Harrison.

The Amazon saga continues in this episode, showing that sometimes even the best of intentions can lead to trouble. It is a solid script, with several wonderful moments that hearken back to the classic episodes of the past.

Varia has been busy since we last saw her (in "Dangerous Prey"). She has brought together the various Amazon tribes and united them into a single council (ostensibly led by Varia herself). Her intent, ultimately, is to wage war on Rome and get revenge for the treatment the Amazon sisterhood has suffered at Imperial hands.

None other than Ares put this idea into her head. No sooner has he regained his divinity than he is off working for his goal of peace through force of arms. It seems that even this extended period of time as a mortal has not dulled his thirst for conquest. He may be an evil, manipulative bastard, but he loves his job - and does well in it.

Into this military preparation arrives Eve, who has returned to Amazon lands bearing her message of peace. She is captured by Varia's troops, and is put on trial for breaking her banishment (set down in "Coming Home"). Xena and Gabrielle arrive on the scene, and sort out the multiple problems that present themselves.

The root of all these problems is Varia herself. Despite the lessons she learned at Xena's side (again, in "Dangerous Prey"), Ares has hardened her heart. As always, his true goals are hidden behind a layer of deception that Xena - and Gabrielle - see through almost at once. He is interested in a war - one big enough to restore some of the power he lost while he was mortal. The ultimate fate of Rome or the Amazon nation is of little consequence to him.

I really enjoyed this episode. Eve's righteousness wasn't grating (like it sometimes is), and she appeared willing to face the consequences of her return to Amazon territory - this quiet dedication is wonderful, and probably comes from her mother. Xena's frustration - with Eve and Varia - makes her job more difficult. Indeed, Xena has trouble handling the situation because she has very little influence in the political arena - that is where Gabrielle excels.

It was very nice to see Gabrielle's status as an Amazon queen emphasized. While she is not at the head of any specific tribe, all the queens that are gathered in this episode have heard of her, and recognize her wisdom. Gabrielle does what she can within the bounds of Amazon law, and despite her failure does a fine job of it.

No doubt many Gabfans were offended by the beating the bard received Varia's hands. I can understand that point of view, but it makes sense to me that Varia would beat Gabrielle. There are two main reasons that I can see for this - one of them is based in the internal back-story of the series, and the second is an external storytelling convention.

First, it was established back in "Dangerous Prey" that Varia was very nearly on the same footing as Xena when it came to combat ability (this is, no doubt, why Ares has nudged her in the direction of war with Rome). Gabrielle has grown as a warrior over the past several years, but I don't think anybody can argue that she isn't in the same league as Xena.

The other reason is, simply, that Xena is the main character, and Gabrielle had been the primary problem solver up to that point in the episode. Gab followed all the appropriate Amazon tradition and law, and then handed the reins of the mission over to Xena. This suggests that before any vigilante action, all legal recourse should be taken.

There is also the fact that, despite her frustration, Xena trusts Gabrielle to handle the political end of things. Up until Gabrielle's defeat, and Varia's stubborn resistance to the truth, Xena is out of her element. When the time comes to "prod buttock", Xena steps to the front line.

The character interaction (and in some cases, development) is well handled. Kevin Smith glows in his return as Ares the God, and it is a joy to see that at his core, he is simply looking to do his job. Gabrielle's inner strength, wisdom, and independence, keep events from spiraling out of control too quickly. Eve's restraint as the messenger of peace - and her decision to travel east at the end of the episode - demonstrate that she has moved out of her mother's shadow, and no longer blindly swallows the faith she has found, but uses it to temper her own judgment.

Xena herself, as I said before, is out of her element through much of this episode. Gabrielle and Eve don't need her (until it comes time for a little bit of swordplay), and the political hurly-burly is clearly not her forte. You can almost see the first thoughts of retirement appearing in Xena's head. But as Eve herself observes, Xena has not yet forgiven herself for what she's done. It is unlikely that she ever will.

Finally, Varia is the first Amazon in a long time that has truly distinguished her from the generic warriors. She deserves a place alongside Ephiny, Vikki Pratt's Cyane, Otere and Yakut as excellent examples of Amazon queendom. The character has been very well written, and Tsianina Joelson has done an excellent job of portraying the Varia's inner fire.

All around, I fell it is an excellent effort. While it contains many elements that are the hallmarks of classic Xena (a plot by Ares, Gabrielle's wisdom and brains, and a climactic fight in dangerous conditions) it includes bits and pieces that are inarguably sixth season. There were no major gaffes or faults that I could see, and the character development was solid and consistent. I give it a solid A.


This commentary is by Beboman.

This was an outstanding episode and for that I am glad. After last week's episode, I was afraid we would continue on the downward path. To my surprise, this episode returned to the high quality of the previous episodes. This episode had all the elements that make up a good Xena episode.

The fights were superb and it had some really great emotional moments. The acting was very good with a solid script and a good directing, as well as some good musical scores. This episode held my interest and my emotions from start to finish and on occasion, it even drew a tear or two.

It was very interesting to see Xena run the full gamut of emotions in this episode and still obtain what she had set out to do.

The ending truly tore into my heart as Xena is forced to say goodbye to her daughter. That goodbye scene felt so final, especially when Eve thanks Gabrielle for taking care of her mother and loving her mother. That hug between those two women who have been at odds with each other for such a long time simply tore me apart because Gabrielle still refers to Eve as Xena's daughter.

This episode finally gave Eve some backbone. She did not come across as the wimpy, whiny Eve, but as a woman of conviction. She knew where her path was and at risk to herself, she went forward. She stood in front of the Amazons and stated that she was guilty of what she was accused. She did not buckle down to her mother, she told the truth. When the time came to say goodbye to her mother, with pain in her heart, she said goodbye and went on her way toward her life and her destiny.

But if truth is to be told, I still like Adrienne Wilkinson more as Livia than Eve. I find her more powerful in that role than when she plays Eve. It seems that when she plays Eve, all the power is drained out and she has nothing to hold on to, to create or build on for the character of Eve. This time around, however, I think she did a good job with both roles and had some very good moments, such as when Varia decides not to kill Xena and Xena cuts Eves chains. Eve rushes to Varia's side and hugs her and gives her the support that Varia needs at the time. Also when she hugs Gabrielle at the end of the episode and thanks her for all Gabrielle has done for her mother. When Gabrielle was going into the ring to fight Varia, Eve tried to make an attempt to reach out to Gabrielle, but Gabrielle did not want to have anything to do with Eve. Very good, solid acting on the part of AW.

Another character who was back in full force was Ares. By the Gods was he ever back. Ohhhhhhhhhhhh, how much have I missed his conniving, manipulative, lying ways. He could not wait to get back and start putting people at risk.

Ares found in Varia the fertile ground for his manipulation. The door to her heart and brain was opened by guilt and Ares did not hesitate to use that to his advantage. He also knew that by using Varia and the Amazons against the Romans, sooner or later he would see Xena in full action. Little did he know that he was going to get a bonus out of this one: Eve.

Ares still has a strong sexual and emotional hold on Xena. She does understand that he is bad for her, but his presence and his touch still excite her. She also knows what he is made of and that he would not stop even if in the process she gets hurt. Ares did not care that Xena had returned him his Godhood. All he cared was that he was back with a vengeance and he was going to pick up from where he had left off.

Then there is Gabrielle. To tell you the truth, I was very disappointed in her fighting skills. I thought by now, after having fought so many battles, she could have taken Varia. (But had that happened we would not have had the ending fight between Xena and Varia.)

I do understand that Varia is a product of Ares' teaching and that he has taught Varia a whole bunch of Xena's moves. But Gabrielle has been with Xena for many years and she has seen Xena fight. She, better than anyone, should have recognized some of Xena's moves and used them to her advantage. In reality, though, Gabrielle did a bit of fancy fighting herself.

I also understand that Gabrielle had to be the voice of reason when it came to holding Xena back from doing what Xena naturally wanted to do. At the same time, I felt like Gabrielle was more interested in being a Queen than in being Xena's friend and partner.

It is true that Gabrielle was trying to do the right thing by both the Amazons and Xena, but I found Gabrielle lacking in true emotions toward Xena, especially at the end when Eve leaves and Xena breaks down. The only thing Gabrielle does is to put her hand on Xena's shoulder. Where is the emotional hug, the tender moment. There was more emotion in Gabrielle toward Eve than toward Xena.

Gabrielle could have put her arms around Xena and given her a hug as a sign of understanding. It is not like Xena has never hugged Gabrielle in the past when she has realized that Gabrielle was in dire need of some physical show of affection. Why couldn't Gabrielle do that for Xena at this time? She could see that Xena was breaking down, that Xena was emotionally hurt. This would have been a great time to show some emotion toward Xena. I missed that very much at the end.

I believe that for Xena to see Gabrielle beaten during her fight with Varia was very painful. She realized that Gabrielle was doing it to help save her daughter, but one thing Xena did not realize or maybe did not want to accept was that Gabrielle was also fighting for herself and her pride to once again be the true queen of the Amazons. From day one, Gabrielle has loved that title and she would like to have it back. What better opportunity.

Yes Xena, Gabrielle had to fight this one on her own. She could not have been a true queen if Xena had fought for her. When Gabrielle was defeated, her defeat hurt more than the physical pain she was suffering. Her pride was wounded and now Xena had to do what Xena knows how to do best.

Once again, Xena shows us where her priorities lie. She is going out to fight for her daughter, but not before making sure that Gabrielle is fine. Once the fight was over, Xena ran to Gabrielle's side, paying little attention to her daughter as she was taken away to her death. It wasn't until Xena received the okay from Gabrielle that she rushed to Eve's defense.

But Gabrielle's attitude hurt Xena deeply. When Gabrielle voted against her daughter and in favor of the Amazons, she put up no fight, she said nothing. Isn't Gabrielle the one who has the ability of speech? Where was that ability in this episode? I have to agree with Varia when she said that Gabrielle was better off using words to defend Eve than to fight for her defense.

I do believe that Gabrielle truly understood what Xena was feeling because in this episode Xena was carrying her feelings on her sleeve and Gabrielle was supposed to be the voice of reason. I do believe that Gabrielle would have been able to help Xena if she had not let her own personal pride get in the way.

I am also beginning to get really tired with this new group of Amazons. Every time Xena is around, they treat her with disrespect. It doesn't seem to matter that Xena always comes through for them and saves them.

It was very rewarding to see that, at the end, Varia does give Xena her place. Yes, it is true that Xena is not an Amazon, but she has given more to the Amazons than to any other group. I really did like when Varia thanks Xena for all her help and both women hug. It was another tender moment for Xena.

So Varia is under the tutelage of Ares and what a great job he has done. Varia is just as good a fighter as Xena, but she lacks something that she will never be able to obtain from Ares. She lacks the ability to case her opponent prior to the fight, find the weakness and use those weaknesses to her favor. That is an art that Xena has developed to perfection. Xena knows what buttons to push when it comes to facing her adversary. She knows how to bring forward those weaknesses and she definitely knows how to use those weaknesses to her advantage.

Varia can not see the forest for the trees, but Xena not only sees the forest, she knows how many trees make up the forest. That is an ability which cannot be taught. It is something you are born with; it is the trademark of a true leader.

I have to admit that I truly did enjoy the fights in this episode, especially the final fight between Xena and Varia. That was an awesome fight. The older and wiser warrior facing off the younger and less experienced warrior. Both women were good fighters and both had the strength and power to overcome the other with one major difference: Xena had everything to lose and she was not ready to lose everything that was dear to her and that meant both Eve and possibly even Gabrielle.

At this time I have to make a side bar: I just love to see Xena fight, especially when she has that smile and her eyes shine like she is truly enjoying the moment. We got to see that several times during her fight with Varia. It was as if Xena was taunting Varia and letting Varia know who really was the better warrior.

For the rest, the show was great. The acting was very good by all, especially by LL and KS. I have to say that KS has Ares so down pat that it is a treat to see him in an episode.

LL was superb in this episode. Her emotional transitions were smooth and perfectly timed. This could be seen particularly when she is being taunted by Ares in the field and she is upset at him, then suddenly you see her sexuality come to the surface with a touch by Ares. This was just great. It is also seen when she gets upset at Gabrielle for voting against Eve. Her change of emotions is so smooth and realistic.

LL had a great handle on Xena this time around. Although Xena had a vast range of emotions in this episode, LL did not let Xena lose focus of what the main objective was. She got it accomplished to perfection. LL was able to maintain Xena's emotions and sensitivity at the same time that she allowed her to act in the way we are accustom to seeing when she needed to accomplish the mission.

Tsianina Joelson's portray of Varia was excellent. Varia was under the spell of Ares and TJ allowed her to be that way. She allowed Varia to hide her guilt under a veil of anger and she allowed Varia to feel remorse and weakness when she realized what she was about to do. That was a bit of some really great acting.

I found this episode to be really good and very entertaining, worthy of being seen several times.


07-25-01. From Xena Torres. I was looking through the eisode guide today and I saw that you questioned Ares' comment to Varia about what Livia did with her Amazon sisters. In the episode, Ares said that the spirit of the Amazons meant that they would NOT be accepted by Gurkhan. Also, if you watch "Who's Gurkhan?" none of the slaves seem to know Xena and Gabrielle. I'm sure an Amazon would have come up to them. But anyway, here's the insider info. I had an amazing opportunity at the Pasadena covention [May 2001] to have breakfast with Adrienne [Wilkinson] for a one on one in person interview and this comment came up. Adrienne says though she ACTED the scene as though Ares had been lying (because as an actress, she could not find the motivation behind Livia's actions), she was told that Livia DID throw the Amazons overboard. They were in the readthrough, and Adrienne stopped everyone to ask if Ares was making this up or if it was true and she was told that it was true, to which she replied, "My god, she IS the B*tch of Rome!" Now you know.

01-30-01. This is where Eve is put on trial by the Amazons for her bad deeds towards them [I wonder if any Amazon will think of joining Xena to the defendants list?]. Also, there might be a disagreement between Xena and Gabrielle over whether to take the Amazons or Eve's side.

11-14-00. Appears that the "A"'s were mixed up. Alti is not in this but ARES! Silly me.

11-13-00. Some buzz that this might be an Alti episodes. Alti is already appearing in disguise in SEND IN THE CLONES, and as herself in STICKS AND STONES. But there was rumblings of yet another episode. I personally think this is a non-true rumor, but who knows? Maybe Alti could make three episodes in one season. I wouldn't mind.

11-13-00. At last! The Amazons FINALLY get a hold of Eve and put her on trial fo her earlier mean streak against the Amazon Nation. I guess that means more guilt for Xena, and Gabrielle having to make sure the discussion is balanced. There is some rumble of an argument between Xena and Gabrielle over Eve's predictament. The predictable stance would be Xena trying to rescue Eve and Gabrielle (the great flip-flopper of the Xenaverse) saying. "What the hey, let them try her!". But what if it is flipped? Maybe Gabrielle will take Eve's side and Xena could be actually FINALLY objective about Eve. Could it happen? Nah. Just wishful thinking.


02-26-01. From Rich.

I was intrigued by those new Amazon leaders in "Path of Vengeance" (and in the next "Helicon" episode as well) so I did some quick research on the web:

--Mawu-Ka, the african leader, seems to take her name from a West African goddess of the moon, Mawu. "Mawu" is also a language spoken in the Ivory Coast, and "Mawu-Ka" means literally "People of Mawu".

--Kanae, the polynesian leader, apparently takes her name from a Maori legend. "Kanae" is the name of one of the flying fish who spared Urutonga, the daughter-in-law of the Maori moon-goddess Mahina, while they attacked her husband.

--Gwynn-Teir, the celtic red-haired leader, is probably inspired by Guenn Teir Bronn, the welsh goddess of motherhood, considered to be the celtic equivalent of Artemis.

--Cyane, you already know about!


These things are by Beth Gaynor.

The first shot of the Amazon-Roman battle has a neat touch to it: we see a long, wide shot of all the amazons and Romans fighting it out in a flurry. Except for Eve, who stands still and quiet in the middle of the anthill. I almost wished we had gotten to see more from that shot.

Did one of the Roman casualties that Xena and Gabrielle find die of an arrow to the butt?

Interesting question here: Ares tells Varia that Eve threw the amazon slaves overboard to rile her. Eve never confirms that little part; it might be true, but it might not be. Is it possible that Xena and Gab really did rescue some of the amazons when they cleared out Gurkhan's harem?

Small cutting glitch at the end of the big pudding pit fight: Varia lands with her sword practically under her right hand. Then the overhead long shot shows the swords scattered a good three feet away from her, then when Xena arrives, the sword is back under her hand again.


02-26-01. Sally Dye. The actress who played Varia's sister Tura, Mia Koning, also played the little waif in the first season ep "Warrior...Princess". She's the one who questioned Princess Diana about the "round killing thing".

02-26-01. From Virginia & Lourdes S.. ...when the Amazons first attacked the Romans, a backside of an Amazon on the left side of the screen kinda looked like Gabrielle's backside. Maybe one of Gabrielle's body doubles. :)

02-26-01. From Virginia & Lourdes S.. ...towards the end when Eve was finally forgiven by Varia, the Amazons were giving Xena and Gabrielle their traditional Amazon salute, one of the Amazons on the right side of the screen was wearing more like a Xena outfit (breastplate 'n skirt) than an Amazon garb. :D

02-26-01. From Virginia & Lourdes S.. ...one or two of the Amazons were wearing Hawaiian-like skirts. We guess the Amazon tribes from every nation are joining and uniting together, but haven't decided what the Amazon outfit should look like under Amazon laws. :)

02-26-01. From Virginia & Lourdes S.. ...Eris, the Gabrielle wannabe, from Kindred Spirits is now all grown up and plays Cyane.

02-26-01. From Virginia & Lourdes S.. ...when Gabrielle was beaten by Varia and was all bloodied, the music accompanying that scene was from Ides Of March.

02-26-01. From Virginia & Lourdes S.. ...the smile on Gabrielle's face when Eve said her goodbye and then she looked up at Xena who was teary-eyed.


Click here to read a transcript of PATH OF VENGEANCEY.


The disclaimer for this episode was harmed during the making of this motion picture.


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